I give you the thoroughbred horse as an image for the local church. I mean a muscle-rippling, hot and eager horse, eyes flashing, hooves pawing, nostrils sucking air, and ears alert. This horse is poised with explosive power, anticipating the spurs, all the time expressing an aura of confidence and intention.
With that image, how could there be unfulfilled destinies of God’s people? Well, I offer six rationales:
1. Our plates are full, and our calendars have few openings. We are busy. This church already has a bridle on a horse, maybe not one of those, but a workhorse, nonetheless.
2. Great image, and very inspiring. But tell me how you are so sure that this horse serves the will of God? Too many tales of others stepping out with “divine courage” and ending up with chaos.
3. If we hitch our agenda to this horse, we will have to push aside all we have set up for the next phase of our church life. This would undo the groundwork I have laid for our stewardship, youth, and education plans. Do you really think that is what God wants?
4. The power of a thoroughbred unleashed here? Why now, when we have never seen power like that before? Hasn’t happened and don’t expect it to happen.
5. I’ve got people who need me. And plenty who are upset—everything from the bass on the praise band to the children’s bathrooms. And you want me to step out in leadership and get on this thoroughbred?
Take your slick image elsewhere.
This does not call for my opinion of God’s church. I will let the Bible direct us. Listen for the thunderous strength of the Thoroughbred.
The Apostle Paul knew the church well. For us he gives these images:
The bulwark and pillar of truth
A holy Temple in the Lord
Dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Here we read some of the purposes of God for the church:
To be stewards of the mysteries of Christ
To preach the unsearchable riches of Christ
To stand against the devil and the powers and authorities of this world
To be lights in this darkened world
To take up the ministry of reconciliation.
Sample statements of who we are should make our ears alert and muscles straining:
Baptized with the Holy Spirit
Given the mind of Christ
Called the Body of Christ
One with Christ as He is one with the Father
Loved by Christ as He is loved by His Father
Received the gifts, ministries, and activities of the Spirit.
We have here the presence of God in our life, the purposes of God entrusted to us, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Can there be any doubt that God wills to work through us, His people? He has called us, sanctified us, empowered us, and given us marching orders. When faithfulness (ours) meets faithfulness (God’s), then we see the grace, power, and love of the Triune God in the paths of the Thoroughbred.
I will give one of my mantras: Good Lord, deliver us from visions of mediocrity.
Isaiah does better than that:
Arise! Shine! For your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. The Lord will arise upon you and His glory will be seen upon you, and nations (unharvested fields!) shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.
These words we will hear next Sunday:
If you are raised with Christ, then seek those things that are above, where Christ is—seated on the right hand of God.
The last word belongs to Paul:
Now to Him who is able to do for more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.